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Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

School districts across the U.S. are looking to add or expand frequent COVID-19 testing as a way to ensure in-person classes are safe.

Why it matters: Surveillance testing is uncommon overall, but is gaining a foothold in schools as local officials look to keep kids safe and reassure nervous staff and parents.

  • Routine surveillance testing can help make families and staff feel more comfortable with in-person instruction, said Jason Kelly, the CEO of Ginkgo Bioworks, a biotech company supplying tests to schools.
  • "Masks, ventilation, distancing is how you create a safe space and then regular testing is how you create confidence in your workers that you’ve done that," he said.

Where it stands: Atlanta Public Schools is investing $2 million in surveillance testing. Massachusetts is testing 300,000 students a week, ready to spend $5 million on tests.

  • Ginkgo has partnered with school districts in Massachusetts and Maryland to administer hundreds of thousands of PCR tests per week, at a cost of about $6 per student.
  • KIPP charter schools in Washington, D.C., are also using testing as part of their reopening plans.

Yes, but: Even with strong partnerships with the state and local health departments, smoothly running a large surveillance testing program takes a lot of staffing, funding and coordination.

  • School officials also need to spend time educating families and staff, said Donny Tiengtum, director of COVID support at KIPP DC.
  • "I often tell the staff and parents, routine testing does not prevent COVID from getting into our building," he said. "It is not gonna be a failsafe way to make sure no one gets COVID. It’s a way to help us identify as early as we can and hopefully be one of the mitigation efforts that prevents big spread in our building."

Go deeper: A worrying decline in COVID testing

Go deeper

37 mins ago - World

In photos: Students evacuated as wildfire burns historic Cape Town buildings

Firefighters try, in vain, to extinguish a fire in the Jagger Library, at the University of Cape Town, after a forest fire came down the foothills of Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa, on Sunday. Photo: Rodger Bosch/AFP via Getty Images

A massive wildfire spread from the foothills of Table Mountain to the University of Cape Town Sunday, burning historic South African buildings and forcing the evacuation of 4,000 students, per Times Live.

The big picture: Visitors to the Table Mountain National Park and other nearby attractions were also evacuated and several roads including a major highway, were closed. South Africa's oldest working windmill and the university's Jagger Library, which houses SA antiquities, are among the buildings damaged.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

3 killed, 2 wounded overnight in Kenosha bar shooting

Three people died and two others were hospitalized with serious injuries after a gunman entered bar in Kenosha County, Wisconsin, the police department said in a statement on Sunday.

The latest: Officers arrested a "person of interest" Sunday afternoon in connection with the 12:42 a.m. shooting and there's "no threat to the community at this time," per a later police statement.

Updated 2 hours ago - Sports

Big European soccer teams announce breakaway league

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah (L) after striking the ball during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final Second Leg match between Liverpool F.C. and Real Madrid at Anfield in Liverpool, England, last Wednesday. Photo: John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

12 of world soccer's biggest and richest clubs announced Sunday they've formed a breakaway European "Super League" — with clubs Manchester United, Liverpool, Barcelona Real Madrid, Juventus and A.C. Milan among those to sign up.

Why it matters: The prime ministers of the U.K. and Italy are among those to express concern at the move — which marks a massive overhaul of the sport's structure and finances, and it effectively ends the decades-old UEFA Champions League's run as the top tournament for European soccer.